Fever/Headache/Body Ache

  • Tylenol – Regular or Extra Strength
  • Do not use Aspirin, Ibuprofen, or Aleve unless directed by a physician

Respiratory Infection

  • Cough- Syrup containing dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM), zinc lozenges, cough drops or anesthetic throat spray
  • Allergies/Hayfever- Antihistimine such as Claritin, Benedryl, or Theraflu, saline nose drops such as Flonase
  • Cold- Vitamin C (max 1000mg /day), Emergen-C, Airborne (but only a double dose of the children’s product)
  • Sinus and Chest Congestion- Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) ONLY in 2nd and 3rd trimester. (Sudafed PE is safe in all trimesters), chest rubs and breathing steam


  • Tums or Rolaids<
  • Mylanta or Maalox
  • Zantac or Pepcid
  • Peppermint or Chamomile Tea
  • Constipation
  • Metamucil or other psyllium product
  • Citrucel, Fibercon or other bulking agent
  • Prune juice or stewed prunes
  • Fiber One or All Bran cereal
  • 2 quarts of water per day
  • Colace (stool softener)


  • itamin B6 – 50 mg one to three times a day (this can be taken with 1/3 to ½ tab Unisom which has anti-nausea properties. It may make you sleepy so try at night or on weekend.)
  • Ginger tea, ginger ale, ginger capsules, or a thin slice of ginger under the tongue
  • Peppermint oil (Inhale)
  • Sea Bands (wear on wrists over pressure points)


    • Kaopectate or Immodium
    • Pepto-Bismol may be used only in the first 20 weeks; do not exceed recommended dosage

BRAT diet- Bananas, rice, Applesauce, Toast

  • Pedialyte or Gatorade


  • Preparation H or Anusol Cream
  • Tucks Pads or cold witch hazel compresses

Yeast Infections

  • Monistat, Lotrimin etc. are safe. 7 day treatments work best in pregnant women.

Vitamins and minerals play important roles in all of your body functions. During pregnancy your body needs more of some of these vitamins and minerals to support proper growth of your baby and to help prevent birth defects. Taking a daily prenatal vitamin as recommended by your provider along with a balanced diet from all five food groups will insure that you get the proper nutrition to support a healthy pregnancy.

Consuming the recommended daily allowances of folic acid, iron, calcium and vitamin D are also very important during your pregnancy. Please be aware of the current  guidelines and discuss any concerns with your provider.

The amount of weight gain recommended during pregnancy depends on your body mass index (BMI) at the time you became pregnant. If you were a normal weight then you should plan to gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy. If you were underweight you should gain a little more, and if you were overweight you should gain a little less.
Overweight and obese women are at increased risk for pregnancy complications. These risks include gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, preeclampsia, preterm birth, and cesarean delivery. Babies of overweight and obese mothers are at greater risk of birth defects, being too large to be delivered without injury, and developing childhood obesity.

Listeria is a type of food-borne illness caused by bacteria. Pregnant women are 13 times more likely to get listeria than the general population. Listeria can cause mild, flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and diarrhea, but may not cause symptoms at all. Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery. To help prevent listeria, avoid eating the following foods during pregnancy;

  • Unpasteurized milk and foods made with unpasteurized milk
  • Hot dogs, luncheon meats, and cold cuts unless they are heated until steaming hot just before served
  • Refrigerated pate and meat spreads
  • Refrigerated smoked seafood
  • Raw and undercooked seafood, eggs, and meat

Seafood is a good source of protein, iron and zinc. The omega-3 fatty acids in many fish can help promote baby brain development. Some types of large, predatory fish such as shark, king mackerel, swordfish and tilefish can contain high levels of mercury. Typically, mercury is not a concern for most adults/ However, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant you should avoid fish containing high levels of mercury. By accumulating in your blood over time, too much mercury can damage the baby’s developing brain.

We recommend 8-12 ounces of seafood per week for a pregnant woman. Low mercury fish such as salmon, anchovies, herring, sardines, trout, Atlantic and Pacific mackerel, shrimp, pollack and catfish are considered safe to eat in larger quantities.

It is common for women to experience bleeding in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy as the embryo attaches to the uterine wall. There are many reasons that bleeding may also occur throughout a normal, healthy pregnancy. For example, spotting and light bleeding is common after sex and usually resolves on its own after a few hours. Vaginal discharge can increase during pregnancy and it’s not unusual to notice a pink tinged discharge every once in awhile.

However, if you should experience any of the following symptoms at anytime during your pregnancy, please contact your provider’s office right away;

  • Bleeding that resembles a period; bright red, moderate to heavy flow
  • Severe, low abdominal cramping
  • Passing of blood clots or tissue

Why is smoking dangerous during pregnancy?

If you smoke during pregnancy, your baby is exposed to harmful chemicals such as tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. Nicotine causes blood vessels to constrict, so less oxygen and nutrients reach the fetus. Carbon monoxide decreases the amount of oxygen the baby receives.

How can smoking during pregnancy put my baby at risk?

The risks of preterm birth and problems with the way the placenta attaches to the uterus are increased in women who smoke during pregnancy. Also, infants born to women who smoke during pregnancy tend to be smaller than those born to nonsmokers. They are more likely to have asthma, colic, and childhood obesity. They also have an increased risk of dying from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

How can secondhand smoke affect my baby during pregnancy?

Breathing secondhand smoke—smoke from cigarettes smoked by other people nearby—can increase the risk of having a low birth weight baby by as much as 20%. Infants who are exposed to secondhand smoke have an increased risk of SIDS and are more likely to have respiratory illnesses than those not exposed to secondhand smoke.

Can I use nicotine gum or the patch to help me quit smoking when I am pregnant?

Nicotine replacement (such as nicotine gum or the patch) or prescription medications for quitting smoking need to be used with caution during pregnancy. Over-the-counter nicotine replacement products should be used only if other attempts to quit have not worked and you and your health care provider have weighed the known risks of continued smoking against the possible risks of these products. Smokeless tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and nicotine gel strips are not safe substitutes for cigarettes.

Why is drinking during pregnancy dangerous for my baby?

When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol, it quickly reaches the fetus through the placenta. In an adult, the liver breaks down the alcohol. A baby’s liver is not fully developed and is not able to break down alcohol.

What are fetal alcohol spectrum disorders?

“Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” is a term that describes different effects that can occur in infants when a woman drinks during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, mental, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime.

What is fetal alcohol syndrome?

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is the most severe alcohol spectrum disorder. FAS can cause growth problems, mental or behavioral problems, and abnormal facial features.

What amounts of alcohol can cause FAS?

FAS is most likely to occur in infants whose mothers drank heavily (3 or more drinks per occasion or more than 7 drinks per week) and continued to drink heavily throughout pregnancy, but it also can occur with lesser amounts of alcohol use. Even moderate alcohol use during pregnancy (defined as one alcoholic drink per day) can cause lifelong learning and behavioral problems in the child.

Is there an amount of alcohol that is safe to drink during pregnancy?

There is no safe level of alcohol use during pregnancy. Alcohol can affect the fetus throughout pregnancy. It is best not to drink at all while you are pregnant. If you did drink alcohol before you knew you were pregnant, you can reduce the risk of further harm to the baby by stopping drinking.

What is illegal drug use?

Illegal drug use includes the use of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana and use of prescription drugs for a non-medical reason.

How can my drug use affect my baby during pregnancy?

A drug’s effects on the fetus depend on many things: how much, how often, and when during pregnancy it is used. The early stage of pregnancy is the time when main body parts of the fetus form. Using drugs during this time in pregnancy can cause birth defects and miscarriage. During the remaining weeks of pregnancy, drug use can interfere with the growth of the fetus and cause preterm birth and fetal death.

How can drug use affect my baby after he or she is born?

Drugs used after the baby is born can be passed to the baby through breast milk.

Why is it important to tell my health care provider if I have used drugs during pregnancy?

It is important to be honest so that you get the help you need for yourself and your unborn baby. Drug testing of your hair or urine during pregnancy or during labor may be done if your health care provider suspects that you have used certain substances and if you have a complication during pregnancy or delivery that suggests drug use. The baby also can be tested after birth.

What is a birth defect?

A birth defect is a condition that is present at birth and affects how a baby looks, functions, or both. Some birth defects can be seen right after the baby is born, such as a clubfoot or extra fingers or toes. Special tests may be needed to find others, such as heart defects or hearing loss. Some birth defects are not noticed until later in life.

What causes birth defects?

Some birth defects are caused by genes that can be passed down from parents to children. Others result from a problem with chromosomes. A small number of birth defects are caused by exposure during pregnancy to certain medications, infections, and chemicals. For many birth defects, the cause is not known.

What can I do before or during pregnancy to decrease my risk of having a baby with certain birth defects?

Most birth defects cannot be prevented because their cause is not known. For a few birth defects, you may be able to decrease your risk by taking certain steps:

  • See your doctor before becoming pregnant.
  • Know your risk factors.
  • Take a daily multivitamin before and during pregnancy.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Use medications wisely.
  • Take care of medical conditions before pregnancy.
  • Do not use alcohol or illegal drugs.
  • Prevent infections.
  • Avoid known harmful agents.

Why should I see my health care provider before becoming pregnant?

Scheduling a health care visit before becoming pregnant is a good idea. Along with getting advice about diet and exercise from your health care provider, you can discuss whether you have any factors that increase the risk of having a child with a birth defect. If you have a medical condition, you also can discuss any special care that you may need before or during pregnancy.

What factors increase the risk of having a baby with a birth defect?

You may be at an increased risk of having a baby with a birth defect if you

  • are older
  • have a family or personal history of birth defects
  • have had a child with a birth defect
  • use certain medicines around the time you become pregnant
  • have a medical condition such as diabetes or obesity
  • use recreational drugs or drink alcohol during pregnancy

If you have any risk factors, your health care provider may recommend special tests or other steps that may help reduce your risk. For example, if you have a personal or family history of birth defects, genetic counseling and testing may be recommended.

Why is taking a multivitamin important before and during pregnancy?

Prenatal vitamin supplements contain the recommended amounts of the vitamins and minerals you will need during your pregnancy, such as vitamins A, C, and D; folic acid; and minerals such as iron. Taking 400 micrograms of folic acid daily for at least 1 month before pregnancy and during pregnancy helps prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine called neural tube defects. Most prenatal and “women’s formula” multivitamin supplements contain 600–800 micrograms of folic acid.

What do I need to know about taking medications during pregnancy?

A few medications have been linked to birth defects. You should tell anyone who prescribes drugs for you that you are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant. This includes doctors you see for non-pregnancy problems, mental health care providers, and your dentist. Also, check with your health care provider before taking any over-the-counter drug, such as pain relievers, laxatives, cold or allergy remedies, vitamins, herbal products, and skin treatments.

How can obesity have an impact on my pregnancy?

Women who are obese (defined as having a body mass index [BMI] of 30 or greater) when they become pregnant have an increased risk of having babies with certain birth defects than women who are a normal weight. Among the most common obesity-related birth defects are neural tube defects, heart defects, and cleft palate. If you are planning a pregnancy, the best way to prevent problems caused by obesity is to be at a normal weight before you become pregnant.

Why is it important to talk to my health care provider if I have certain medical conditions and am thinking of becoming pregnant?

Some medical conditions—such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and seizure disorders—may increase the risk of having a baby with certain birth defects. If you have a medical condition, see your health care provider to discuss any changes you need to make in your diet, medication, or other areas to bring the condition under control before you try to become pregnant.

Why is it important for me to not drink alcohol during pregnancy?

Alcohol use during pregnancy is a leading cause of birth defects. “Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders” is a term that describes different effects that can occur in the fetus when a woman drinks during pregnancy. These effects may include physical, behavioral, and learning disabilities that can last a lifetime. One of the most serious effects of drinking during pregnancy is fetal alcohol syndrome. Birth defects caused by alcohol are 100% preventable by avoiding all alcohol while you are

How can recreational drug use affect my pregnancy?

Use of illegal drugs (such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines, and marijuana) and prescription drugs used for nonmedical reasons (such as oxycodone) can harm your baby. Some drugs cause growth problems in the baby. Others may cause long-term emotional, behavioral, and learning problems. Many drugs increase the risk of preterm birth and other serious birth problems. You should avoid all use of these drugs during pregnancy.

What infections should I be concerned about and how can I reduce my risk of getting them during pregnancy?

Some infections can increase the risk of birth defects and other problems during pregnancy for you and your growing baby:

  • Rubella (German measles) is a viral infection that usually causes a mild rash and a low fever. Having rubella during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or result in deafness, intellectual disability, heart defects, and blindness in your newborn. There is a vaccine against rubella, but it is not recommended for pregnant women. If you have not already had the disease or been vaccinated, you should be vaccinated against rubella and wait at least 1 month before becoming pregnant.
  • Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that lives in soil. You can become infected by eating raw or undercooked meat or unwashed vegetables or by coming into contact with animal feces, especially from cats that go outdoors. If you are infected for the first time while you are pregnant, you can pass the disease on to your baby. Toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects, including hearing loss, vision problems, and intellectual disability. Make sure that you eat well-cooked meat and wear gloves while gardening or handling unwashed vegetables. If you have an outdoor cat that uses a litter box, have someone else empty it. If you must empty the litter box, use gloves and wash your hands well after doing so.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) can cause serious birth defects. Treating an STI—preferably before you become pregnant—may prevent or reduce harm to the fetus.
  • Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a common viral infection. Most CMV infections cause no significant problems. If you are infected for the first time when you are pregnant, CMV can infect the fetus. In a small number of cases, the infection can cause intellectual disability, hearing loss, and vision problems. CMV can be spread by contact with an infected child’s urine or other body fluids. Pregnant women who work with young children, such as day care workers or health care workers, should take steps to prevent infection, such as wearing gloves when changing diapers. Frequent hand washing also is recommended.

What precautions can I take to limit my exposure to agents that can cause birth defects?

A few precautions that are recommended for all pregnant women include the following:

  • Limit your exposure to mercury by not eating eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, or tilefish. Limit eating white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces a week. You do not have to avoid all fish during pregnancy. In fact, fish and shellfish are nutritious foods with vital nutrients for a pregnant woman and her growing baby. Be sure to eat at least 8–12 ounces of low-mercury fish and shellfish per week.
  • Avoid exposure to lead. Lead can be found in old paint, construction materials, alternative medicines, and items made in foreign countries, such as jewelry and pottery.
  • Avoid taking high levels of vitamin A. Very high levels of vitamin A have been linked to severe birth defects. Your prenatal multivitamin should contain no more than 5,000 international units of vitamin A.

What is gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is diabetes mellitus that develops in women for the first time during pregnancy. Some women found to have gestational diabetes actually may have had mild diabetes before pregnancy that was not diagnosed.

What is diabetes mellitus?

Diabetes mellitus (also called “diabetes”) is a condition that causes high levels of glucose in the blood . Glucose is a sugar that is the body’s main source of energy. Health problems can occur when glucose levels are too high.

What causes gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is caused by a change in the way a woman’s body responds to insulin during pregnancy. Insulin is a hormone. It moves glucose out of the blood and into the body’s cells where it can be turned into energy. During pregnancy, a woman’s cells naturally become slightly more resistant to insulin’s effects. This change is designed to increase the mother’s blood glucose level to make more nutrients available to the baby. The mother’s body makes more insulin to keep the blood glucose level normal. In a small number of women, even this increase is not enough to keep their blood glucose levels in the normal range. As a result, they develop gestational diabetes.

Will I be tested for gestational diabetes?

All pregnant women are screened for gestational diabetes. You may be asked about your medical history and risk factors or you may have a blood test to measure the level of glucose in your blood. This test usually is done between 24 weeks and 28 weeks of pregnancy. It may be done earlier if you have risk factors.

If I develop gestational diabetes, will I always have diabetes mellitus?

For most women, gestational diabetes goes away after childbirth. However, they remain at high risk of having diabetes later in life. For women who had mild diabetes before pregnancy, it is a lifelong condition.

Who is at risk of gestational diabetes?

Gestational diabetes is more likely in women who

  • are older than 25 years
  • are overweight
  • have had gestational diabetes before
  • have had a very large baby
  • have a close relative with diabetes
  • have had a stillbirth in a previous pregnancy
  • are African American, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic, Latina, or Pacific Islander

How can gestational diabetes affect pregnancy?

Gestational diabetes increases the risk of having a very large baby (a condition called macrosomia) and possible cesarean birth. High blood pressure and preeclampsia are more common in women with gestational diabetes.

What are the risks to babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes?

Babies born to mothers with gestational diabetes may have problems with breathing, low glucose levels, and jaundice. With proper prenatal care and careful control of glucose levels, the risk of these problems decreases.

What are the long-term effects of gestational diabetes for both mothers and babies?

Women who have had gestational diabetes are at higher risk of having diabetes in the future, as are their children. Women with gestational diabetes will need to have regular diabetes testing after pregnancy. Their children also will need to be monitored for diabetes risks.

If I have gestational diabetes, how can I control it?

If you have gestational diabetes, you will need to keep your blood glucose level under control. Controlling your blood glucose level may require daily tracking of your glucose level, eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and sometimes, taking medications.

If I have gestational diabetes, will I have to take medication?

Gestational diabetes often can be controlled with diet and exercise. If diet and exercise are not enough, medication may be needed to control your blood glucose level. Some women may take oral medications; others may need insulin.

Will gestational diabetes affect the delivery of my baby?

Most women with gestational diabetes are able to have a vaginal birth but are more likely to have a cesarean delivery than women without diabetes to prevent delivery problems. Labor also may be induced (started by drugs or other means) earlier than the due date.

If I had gestational diabetes, is there anything I should do after my pregnancy?

You should have a test for diabetes 6–12 weeks after you give birth. If your postpartum glucose test result is normal, you need to be tested for diabetes every 3 years. Your child also should be checked throughout childhood for risk factors for diabetes, such as obesity.

Why are tests done during pregnancy?

A number of lab tests are suggested for all women as part of routine prenatal care. These tests can help find conditions that can increase the risk of complications for you and your fetus.

What tests are done early in pregnancy?

The following lab tests are done early in pregnancy:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood type
  • Urinalysis
  • Urine culture
  • Rubella
  • Hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Tuberculosis (TB)

What is a CBC and what can the results show?

A CBC counts the numbers of different types of cells that make up your blood. The number of red blood cells can show whether you have a certain type of anemia. The number of white blood cells shows how many disease-fighting cells are in your blood, and the number of platelets can reveal whether you have a problem with blood clotting.

What is blood typing and what can the results show?

Results from a blood type test can show if you have the Rh factor. The Rh factor is a protein that can be present on the surface of red blood cells. Most people have the Rh factor—they are Rh positive. Others do not have the Rh factor—they are Rh negative. If your fetus is Rh positive and you are Rh negative, your body can make antibodies against the Rh factor. In a future pregnancy, these antibodies can damage the fetus’s red blood cells.

What is a urinalysis and what can the results show?

Your urine may be tested for red blood cells (to see if you have urinary tract disease), white blood cells (to see if you have a urinary tract infection), and glucose (high levels may be a sign of diabetes mellitus). The amount of protein also is measured. The protein level early in pregnancy can be compared with levels later in pregnancy. High protein levels in the urine may be a sign of preeclampsia, a serious complication that usually occurs later in pregnancy or after the baby is born.

What is a urine culture test and what can the results show?

A urine culture tests your urine for bacteria, which can be a sign of a urinary tract infection.

What is rubella and what do test results for this disease show?

Rubella (sometimes called German measles) can cause birth defects if a woman is infected during pregnancy. Your blood is tested to check whether you have had a past infection with rubella or if you have been vaccinated against this disease. If you have not had rubella previously or if you have not been vaccinated, you should avoid anyone who has the disease while you are pregnant because it is highly contagious. If you have not had the vaccine, you should get it after the baby is born, even if you are breastfeeding. You should not be vaccinated against rubella during pregnancy.

What are hepatitis B and hepatitis C and what do test results for these infections show?

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses infect the liver. Pregnant women who are infected with hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus can pass the virus to their babies. All pregnant women are tested for hepatitis B virus infection. If you have risk factors, you also may be tested for the hepatitis C virus.

Which STI tests are done in pregnant women?

All pregnant women are tested for syphilis and chlamydia early in pregnancy. Syphilis and chlamydia can cause complications for you and your baby. If you have either of these STIs, you will be treated during pregnancy and tested again to see if the treatment has worked. If you have risk factors for gonorrhea (you are aged 25 years or younger or you live in an area where gonorrhea is common), you also will be tested for this STI.

Why are all pregnant women tested for HIV?

If a pregnant woman is infected with HIV, there is a chance she can pass the virus to her baby. HIV attacks cells of the body’s immune system and causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). If you are pregnant and infected with HIV, you can be given medication and take other steps that can greatly reduce the risk of passing it to your baby.

Which pregnant women should be tested for TB?

Women at high risk of TB (for example, women who are infected with HIV or who live in close contact with someone who has TB) should be tested for this infection.

What tests are done later in pregnancy?

The following tests are done later in pregnancy:

  • A repeat CBC
  • Rh antibody test
  • Glucose screening test
  • Group B streptococci (GBS)

When will I be tested for Rh antibodies?

If you are Rh negative, your blood will be tested for Rh antibodies between 28 weeks and 29 weeks of pregnancy. If you do not have Rh antibodies, you will receive Rh immunoglobulin. This shot prevents you from making antibodies during the rest of your pregnancy. If you have Rh antibodies, you may need special care.

What is a glucose screening test and what can the results show?

This screening test measures the level of glucose (sugar) in your blood. A high glucose level may be a sign of gestational diabetes. This test usually is done between 24 weeks and 28 weeks of pregnancy. If you have risk factors for diabetes or had gestational diabetes in a previous pregnancy, screening may be done in the first trimester of pregnancy.

What is GBS and why are pregnant women tested for it?

GBS is a type of bacteria that lives in the vagina and rectum. Many women carry GBS and do not have any symptoms. GBS can be passed to a baby during birth. Most babies who get GBS from their mothers do not have any problems. A few, however, become sick. This illness can cause serious health problems and even death in newborn babies. GBS usually can be detected with a routine screening test that is given between 35 weeks and 37 weeks of pregnancy. For this test, a swab is used to take samples from the vagina and rectum.

What happens if my GBS screening test result is positive?

If your GBS test result is positive, antibiotics can be given during labor to help prevent the baby from becoming infected.

What is the difference between screening tests and diagnostic tests for birth defects?

Screening tests are done during pregnancy to assess the risk that the fetus has certain common birth defects. A screening test cannot tell whether the baby actually has a birth defect. There is no risk to the fetus with having screening tests.

Diagnostic tests actually can detect many, but not all, birth defects caused by defects in a gene or chromosomes. Diagnostic testing may be done instead of screening if a couple has a family history of a birth defect, belongs to a certain ethnic group, or if the couple already has a child with a birth defect. Diagnostic tests also are available as a first choice for all pregnant women, including those who do not have risk factors. Some diagnostic tests carry risks, including a small risk of pregnancy loss.

What is the first step in screening for birth defects?

Screening for birth defects begins by assessing your risk factors. Early in your pregnancy, your health care professional may give you a list of questions to find out whether you have risk factors, such as a personal or family history of birth defects, belonging to certain ethnic groups, maternal age of 35 years or older, or having preexisting diabetes. In some situations, you may want to visit a genetic counselor for more detailed information about your risks.

What is a carrier test?

A carrier test can show if you or your partner carry a gene for a certain disorder, such as cystic fibrosis. Carrier tests can be done before or during pregnancy. Carrier testing often is recommended if you or your partner have a genetic disorder, have a child with a genetic disorder, have a family history of a genetic disorder, or belong to an ethnic group that has an increased risk of specific disorders. Also, cystic fibrosis carrier screening is offered to all women of reproductive age because it is one of the most common inherited disorders.

What are other types of screening tests for birth defects that can be done during pregnancy?

Screening tests include an ultrasound exam in combination with blood tests that measure the levels of certain substances in the mother’s blood.

What are the types of diagnostic tests for birth defects that can be done during pregnancy?

Diagnostic tests for birth defects include amniocentesis, chorionic villus sampling, and a targeted ultrasound exam.

Can I choose whether or not to have testing for birth defects?

Whether you want to be tested is a personal choice. Knowing beforehand allows the option of deciding not to continue the pregnancy. If you choose to continue the pregnancy, it can give you time to prepare for having a child with a particular disorder and to organize the medical care that your child may need. Your health care professional or a genetic counselor can discuss the options with you and help you decide.

As you approach your due date you may notice certain changes taking place that signal your body is preparing for labor. You may feel that the baby has “dropped” lower into the pelvis, placing more pressure on your bladder and pelvis. You may also experience an increase in vaginal discharge. It may be clear, pink, or slightly bloody. These changes can begin taking place from a few weeks, up until just before labor begins. None of these symptoms are cause for alarm and are considered normal. If you feel a gush of fluid and believe your bag of water has broken, you should proceed to the hospital labor and delivery unit for an evaluation.

How will I know when I am in labor?

Your uterus may contract off and on for several weeks before actual labor begins. This is considered “false labor” and we call these “Braxton Hicks” contractions. These can be painful at times and typically occur later in the day. These contractions are irregular in timing and duration.

Our providers consider you in active labor when you can answer “Yes” to one or more of the following;

  • Contractions are coming at regular intervals and are increasingly coming closer together
  • Contractions are steadily becoming more painful, radiating from back to front
  • Contractions do not subside with movement or re-positioning

We recommend that patients present to labor and delivery when contractions have been steadily increasing in intensity and timing, and are now occurring every five minutes.

What is influenza (the flu)?

Influenza (the flu) is more than a bad cold. It usually comes on suddenly. Signs and symptoms may include fever, headache, fatigue, muscle aches, coughing, and sore throat. It can lead to complications, such as pneumonia. Some complications can be life-threatening.

Who is at risk of developing complications from the flu?

Certain people have an increased risk of developing flu complications. These include the following groups:

  • Adults 65 years and older
  • Children younger than 5 years
  • People who have illnesses or conditions like asthma, heart disease, or cancer
  • Pregnant women

How does being pregnant increase my risk of complications from the flu?

Normal changes in the immune system that occur during pregnancy may increase your risk of flu complications. You also have a higher risk of pregnancy complications, such as preterm labor and preterm birth, if you get the flu. You are more likely to be hospitalized if you get the flu while you are pregnant than when you are not pregnant. Your risk of dying from the flu is increased as well.

Who should get vaccinated against the flu?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that everyone 6 months of age and older—including pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding—get the flu vaccine each year. If you are pregnant, it is best to get the vaccine early in the flu season (October through May), as soon as the vaccine is available. You can get the shot at any time during your pregnancy. If you are not vaccinated early in the flu season, you still can get the vaccine later in the flu season. If you have a medical condition that further increases the risk of flu complications, such as asthma or heart disease, you should think about getting the vaccine before the flu season starts.

Which type of flu vaccine should I get?

There are two types of flu vaccines: 1) a shot and 2) a nasal mist. The flu shot contains a form of the flu virus that is inactivated. It cannot cause disease. The shot can be given to pregnant women at any time during pregnancy. A live,attenuated influenza vaccine is available as a nose spray. The nose spray vaccine is not recommended for pregnant women. However, it is safe for women after they have given birth, including those who are breastfeeding.

How does the flu vaccine work?

The flu vaccine triggers your immune system to make antibodies against the flu virus. Antibodies circulate in the bloodstream. If they encounter a flu virus, they “tag” it for destruction by other parts of the immune system. It takes about 2 weeks for the body to build up protective antibodies after you get the flu shot.

How often should I get the flu vaccine?

With some types of vaccines, the antibodies that are made remain active for many years. But the types of viruses that cause the flu can change every year. The antibodies made in response to one year’s flu vaccine may not work against the next year’s flu viruses. For this reason, the flu vaccine is updated each year. To be fully protected, you need to get the flu vaccine yearly.

How does getting the flu vaccine when I am pregnant help my baby?

The flu vaccine does “double duty” by protecting both you and your baby. Babies cannot get the flu vaccine until they are 6 months old. When you get a flu shot during pregnancy, the protective antibodies made in your body are transferred to your baby. These antibodies will protect your baby against the flu until he or she can get the vaccine at 6 months of age.

Are vaccines safe?

Vaccines are developed with the highest safety standards. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approves all vaccines. The CDC continues to monitor all vaccines after they are approved. They have been used for many years in millions of pregnant women and are not known to cause pregnancy problems or birth defects.

Can vaccines made with thimerosal cause autism?

There is no scientific evidence that vaccines made with thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative, can cause autism or other health problems in babies. Thimerosal-containing vaccines do not cause autism in children born to women who received these vaccines. There is a flu vaccine made without thimerosal, but experts have not said that the thimerosal-free version is better for any particular group—including children and pregnant women.

Do vaccines have any side effects?

Most side effects of vaccines are mild, such as a sore arm or a low fever, and go away within a day or two. Severe side effects and reactions are rare. The CDC keeps track of side effects and reactions to all vaccines given in the United States. When you receive a vaccine, you should receive a Vaccine Information Statement. This statement lists the possible side effects of and reactions to that vaccine. If you have concerns about vaccine side effects, talk to your obstetrician or other member of your health care team.

What should I do if I get the flu while I am pregnant?

If you think you have the flu and you are pregnant (or you have had a baby within the past 2 weeks), contact your obstetrician or other health care professional right away. Taking an antiviral medication as soon as possible is recommended. Flu symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever or feeling feverish
  • Chills
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose

Antiviral medication is available by prescription. It is most effective when taken within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms, but there still is some benefit to taking it up to 4–5 days after symptoms start. An antiviral drug does not cure the flu, but it can shorten how long it lasts and how severe it is. Even if you just think you have the flu, it is best to be on the safe side and contact your obstetrician or other member of your health care team.

What should I do if I come into close contact with someone who has the flu while I am pregnant?

You also should call your obstetrician or other health care professional if you are pregnant and come in close contact with someone who has the flu. This includes living with, caring for, or talking face-to-face with someone who may have the flu. You may be prescribed an antiviral drug to reduce the risk that you will get the flu.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that some of the content featured on this page was obtained from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists website. You can learn more and view additional patient resources by going to: www.acog.org/patients/.